Edith Wharton, Gary Totten, Hermione Lee, Laura Rattray, Liverpool Hope University, Pamela Knights, Scribner's Magazine, The Custom of the Country, The Custom of the Country 100th anniversary, Undine Spragg, William Blazek
Edith Wharton called it her “Big Novel,” and her biographer Hermione Lee calls it her “greatest book.” The Custom of the Country was published 100 years ago, in 1913, and over the next few months, I’ll be writing about the novel and its heroine (or anti-heroine) Undine Spragg to celebrate this important anniversary.
I’ll also write about the fascinating changes Wharton made between the serialized publication, in Scribner’s Magazine, and the first edition. My first piece, which I’ll post tomorrow, is about how I discovered The Custom of the Country, and why I continue to find the novel so intriguing.
Next up is a discussion of Undine’s unusual name, followed by posts on her ambition to conquer New York, connections between her and the Empress Josephine, and then on Wharton’s abiding interest in marriage and divorce as subjects for her fiction. Links to my posts, plus articles and discussion questions about the novel elsewhere on the web, may be found on my page The Custom of the Country at 100.
To make sure you don’t miss these posts, you can follow my blog or subscribe by e-mail, if you aren’t already doing so. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Please share this invitation with friends who may be interested in celebrating the novel’s anniversary with us.
If you’re already a subscriber—thank you! I’m so glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll join the discussion about this fabulous novel.
There’s a party for Undine this summer at Liverpool Hope University: William Blazek and Laura Rattray are the directors for a symposium called “Edith Wharton and The Custom of the Country: Centennial Reappraisals,” to be held August 22-23, 2013. The keynote speakers are Pamela Knights and Gary Totten. I expect “Undine’s party [will be] one of the liveliest in the room” (as Wharton says in Chapter 19).
Happy Anniversary to Edith Wharton, Undine Spragg, and The Custom of the Country, and Happy 4th of July, too!
My other posts on The Custom of the Country:
That moment when you’re revising obsessively and it feels like “an attack of scrupulosis”…: On revising The Custom of the Country
Happy 100th Anniversary to Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country! The first installment of the novel was published in Scribner’s Magazine in January 1913.
Writing with “dogged obstinacy”: In the summer of 1911, Edith Wharton was “digging away” at her “Big Novel,” The Custom of the Country, wondering if “dogged obstinacy” could “replace freedom & inspiration.”
“The books were too valuable to be taken down”: On Undine Spragg’s treatment of her son Paul in the last chapter of The Custom of the Country, and Paul’s experience of nightmarish library in which the books can never be read, and no one ever writes.
French Fact and American Fiction: Wharton’s use of place names in The Custom of the Country.